Review of Crispin’s newest barrel aged limited release, 15 Men. It is a dark rum barrel aged Colfax apple cider with wildflower honey and dark candi syrup. The name 15 Men alludes to the book Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Crispin’s previous barrel aged limited release cider before this was Venus Reigns (my review here). They have had a barrel aging program for 6 years.
Cider: 15 Men
Cidery Location: Colfax, CA
How Supplied: 22oz bottle
Availability: limited availability, but wide release, since early October 2015
Cider Description: Buccaneers & buried treasure. Mutiny & murder. For the love of adventure and a barrel of rum. Drink and the devil had done for the rest. An epic saga of Colfax classic apple wine matured in dark rum casks, then laced with wildflower honey and dark candi syrup. 15 Men rolls strong like a deep ocean swell with notes of burnt caramel and oak, gentle hints of ripe fall fruits, vanilla and exotic floral fruit carried on the trade winds. Before pouring, give a solid bottoms-up tilt and swirl to disperse sediment evenly and experience the complex aroma and bouquet. Best enjoyed at cellar temperature, 50/55F. With or without 1 or 2 ice cubes.
Cidery Description: Classically refined, but not styled as a traditional “sweet beer” beer alternative, Crispin ciders are crisp and clean, not sweet and sticky and never sacrifice superior quality refreshment satisfaction for overbearing complexity. Always true to the fruit, Crispin Hard Ciders are naturally fermented using fresh-pressed apple or pear juice, not from concentrate, from a premium blend of fruit from the west coast. Additionally, Crispin Ciders do not contain added malt, grape wine, or spirit alcohol. Crispin Ciders are all Gluten Free.
Where Bought: Total Wine
Where Drank: home
How Found: I read about this release online, then started the search for it. Total Wine has a convenient online inventory, so I knew before I went in that it was in stock.
First Impression: No carbonation upon pouring. Hazy honey orange amber. Smells of ripe apples, honey, tropical fruit, light floral, caramel, and brown sugar.
Opinion: Between semi-dry and semi-sweet. Still (no carbonation). In the taste, I again pick up the ripe apples, a lot of honey, some fruitiness & floral, and the caramel and brown sugar notes. Additionally, some mild wood barrel notes, a bit of citrus, and mild spiced rum in the finish. I thought the rum presented more in the lingering heat than the actual flavor. I’m surprised by how much honey flavor there is! Mild tartness and bitterness. Medium acidity. No significant tannins or astringency. Medium bodied. Average finish length. The barrel and spirit influence stays mild. This was better between fridge and room temperature, where it became very smooth and the honey flavor mellowed out a bit.
Most Similar to: Rum barrel aged cider always reminds me of Sea Cider Prohibition / Rumrunner (my review here). Honey reminds me of ciders such as Finnriver Honey Meadow (my review here). However, this cider wasn’t anything like either of those. The honey seemed to be competing with the rum & barrel aspects. So, there aren’t really any similar ciders I’ve tried.
Closing Notes: Overall this was a good but not great cider in my opinion. The amount of honey flavor seemed to be too much, and I would have liked more rum & barrel influence. A bit of carbonation wouldn’t have hurt either. Overall it was unique. However, $10 seems a bit steep for what it is, as at the end of the day, Crispin is a commercial cidery.
Have you tried Crispin 15 Men? What did you think?